Welcome to the 3rd SPARK Writing Festival!

SPARK is a community based creative writing initiative by the UAB Department of English designed to spark inspiration and bring writers together. This SPARK takes on a virtual format again and features two different experiences.

Let’s SPARK something new together!


 These workshops feature a two-week deep dive into a specific genre. The first week of workshop is generative and will help you produce new work. The second week of workshop features a personalized community critique session where you’ll get instructor and group feedback on your writing.

  • Non-Fiction Workshop with Salaam Green ($60 per person, 15 students max)
  • Writing for Young Adults Workshop with Randi Pink ($60 per person, 15 students max)
  • Poetry Workshop with Tina Mozelle Braziel ($60 per person, 15 students max)
  • Fiction Workshop with ??? ($60 per person, 15 students max)
  • SPARK Starts with Halley Cotton ($20 per person, 20 students max)

 Workshops meet on Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 6pm – 8pm, July 19th – 30th

Generative Days
Monday, July 19 (6-8pm)
Wednesday, July 21 (6-8pm)
Friday, July 23 (6-8pm)

Critique Days
Monday, July 26 (6-8pm)
Wednesday, July 28 (6-8pm)
Friday, July 30 (6-8pm)

*Please note, if the cost to join these immersive workshops is a challenge, registration funds are available through the Juliana Wu Scholarship Fund* 


These events are free and open to the public! They feature local writing professionals leading participants through a variety of writing inspirations on a given topic. This year’s line up includes:

  • Sunday, July 18th at 6pm: SPARK Kick-Off and Flash Fiction Writing with Halley Cotton
  • Tuesday, July 20 at 6pm: Slam Poetry with Voice Porter
  • Thursday, July 22 at 6pm: Drama with Nichole Lariscy
  • Saturday, July 24 at 6pm: Found Language with George Sawaya
  • Tuesday, July 27 at 6pm: Personal Narrative for the Media with Javacia Harris Bowser
  • Thursday, July 29 at 6pm: Poetry with Jennifer Horne
  • Saturday, July 31 at 6pm: Where to Go from Here with Halley Cotton


Sunday July 25th at 2pm

SPARK is thrilled to welcome Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha–winners of a Caldecott Honor for their book The Cat Man of Aleppo–as co-keynote speakers for this year.

Irene Latham is a grateful creator of many novels, poetry collections, and picture books, including the coauthored Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, which earned a Charlotte Huck Honor, and The Cat Man of Aleppo, which won a Caldecott Honor. Irene lives on a lake in rural Alabama.



Karim Shamsi-Basha is a writer and photographer who immigrated to the United States in 1984 from Damascus, Syria at the age of 18. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Sports Illustrated, People, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. His children’s book, The Cat Man of Aleppo, has received five starred reviews.